Local Identity Constructions in Digital Transformation: At the ‘Peripheries’ of a Globalized World (GER)

Remote, rural areas are a popular subject of urban-centric projections. Often branded as peripheries of global networks and thresholds of modernisation and development narratives, they are also considered a resource to be exploited in planning processes. Whilst public discourse provides little space for inhabitants’ perspectives, they experience first-hand the digitally mediated commodification of their living environment into symbolic spaces of a mythicised authenticity. Today, digital technologies translocally co-produce the reinterpretation and transformation of these places.

In spatial science and planning, this digital interconnectedness of the world is understood as a critical juncture in the production of space: global discourses, services, and knowledge systems to which we as individuals are digitally connected, refigure our perceived standpoint in the world and therefore influence our spatial actions. Identity constructs, consisting of multiple and simultaneous contexts of an individual (Sen 2006), set the course of everyday space-production. Today, through digital technologies, they are potentially gaining new scope to negotiate local (spatial) identities and understandings of heritage in the face of translocal and hegemonic influences.
Following this line of thought, this lecture outlines some initial findings from two qualitative case studies in Chile and South Korea. The focus is placed on the close imaginary and lived connection between material artefacts, such as geography, architecture, and climate, and the identity constructions of the inhabitants; and how this nexus finds continuity amidst new digital economies, such as tourism and e-commerce. The picture that emerges shows how interacting aspects of identity in the form of intersectional spatial knowledge and practices at the individual micro-level can be digitally consolidated, communicated and spatially inherited.

This approach sheds light on the Janus-faced entry of digital service economies into rural spaces, where boundless flows of information meet the finite nature of material actors and practices of identity and cultural heritage construction.